Wallenpaupack’s talented cross country runner finished fifth in Class AAA at the state cross country championship meet Saturday in Hershey. But a year ago, he was still a member of the soccer team. Until he ran a 4:17.96 time in the 1,600-meter run at the state track meet.
Age: 16
Other sport you play: Track and field
What sports teams do you follow? Mostly the Steelers and the Yankees.
Do you have any superstitions or rituals on race day? Usually I eat a peanut butter bagel for lunch. That’s my thing. And I static stretch before school.
Most famous athlete you’ve met: Darryl Strawberry. It was just kind of a meet and greet.
Three people you’d like to have dinner with. Jesse Owens, Steve Prefontaine, and the third is Elon Musk (business magnate and engineer).
How did your soccer coach, Scott Bonagura, take the news that you were giving up soccer for cross country? He was actually all for it. Obviously he was upset that he was going to lose me, but that I was making the right decision. He knew my future was in running and he accepted that and supported me. I was able to transition pretty easily.
Did you consider running cross country and playing soccer? I did but probably before that I saw Sam Killiany on the girls side was doing both, and I saw how she was going back and forth and how it was wearing her down. I would have been going to cross country practice all the time and it would have been unfair to the soccer team. Also, there was the risk of injury. I was all-in with cross country.
Could you have expected this kind of success for yourself when the season started? Going into cross country, we fill out a goal sheet and basing it on track season and the milers that I knew, I thought maybe we could go top five. Then I kind of realized I’m not a top-five runner in the state when I ran at (Paul Short Invitational) Lehigh. I realized how competitive our state is in cross country. That’s when I put my foot to the ground and started working.
What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you in your varsity career? It would probably have to be winning the district with the whole team last week. Going into the season, that was the ultimate team goal. We had four of our top seven that were on our 4×800 relay team that lost districts by five-hundreths of a second. Again, motivation for this season, putting our foot to the ground and going after the district title.
After high school, what are your plans, and how does track figure into those plans? I would be happy running at any Division I school and most likely be majoring in engineering.